Ridgefield school administrators detail strategies to recover learning loss

RIDGEFIELD — Ridgefield school officials are taking a three-pronged approach in an effort to help recover students’ learning loss from the past year and a half.

Last month, administrators shared test results from three state-required assessments that Ridgefield students took in the spring. When compared to scores from spring 2019, some grades saw declines among higher achievement levels, which officials attributed to the pandemic.

Assistant Superintendent Cory Gillette, at a Monday school board meeting, presented details of the plan that, which focus on curriculum, assessment and supportive schoolwide systems.

Gillette explained that in basketball, a rebound allows teams to either redirect their direction of play or take another shot at the basket after a miss. The district would take a similar approach to help students recover.

“We kept getting excited about how this really could be applied to all the work we’re doing in schools,” she said. “We want to bounce back — we want to focus on recovery, not loss.”


Gillette said the district created a “common access point” that organizes curriculum documents to get a better sense of what teachers ought to be teaching and address priority standards. This strategy accelerates learning forward by integrating missed instruction into current courses.

Jeff Corbishley, 6-12 mathematics and science supervisor, gave an example of pre-calculus teachers who are currently teaching trigonometry to students whose geometry teachings were disrupted by the onset of the pandemic.

“By doing a pre-assessment and recognizing that students’ knowledge of right-triangle trigonometry, a prerequisite skill, really wasn’t truly mastered, they wove those concepts into the course within the unit ... before they could then accelerate and move forward,” he said.


To measure the impact of this layered instruction, the district is increasing assessment opportunities to see if students are making progress. Though not inherently evident to students, Gillette noted, the opportunities can include organic, informal assessments such as an exit ticket at the end of a lesson.

Administrators also budgeted the district’s assessment calendars to determine which tests should continue, which could be adjusted and if any should be added. An assessment from Heggerty — a curriculum resource for phonemic awareness — was added at the elementary level.

Annie Tucci, 6-12 humanities supervisor, likened the district’s recovery strategy to combating the summer slide. The objective, she explained, is to re-ignite dormant learning in the minds of students, determine what they need and adjust instruction on the spot.

Supportive schoolwide systems

Linda Johnson, the K-5 elementary director, discussed how the district’s multi-tiered system of support is being utilized to recover learning loss.

In grades K-8, teams of teachers and administrators meet regularly to review different data sources to determine need at all levels. Depending on a particular student’s need, staff can develop an individualized intervention, enrichment or social-emotional learning plan to ensure that child’s success in the future.

“We are working to build that collective efficacy … to best serve our students,” Gillette said.